Posted on behalf of Jillian Macguire.
Our October virtual reading was another resounding success. We started the evening with Dee Allen from
Oakland, California, reading a poem called “Conundrum” that lamented the disappearance of the hovering, stinging bumblebees from his grandma’s flowers. Dee’s theme of nature’s fragility in the face of human “progress” kept resurfacing throughout the night. The open-mic portion continued and featured Halloween dates, the search for milk and honey, a large rose-giving uniformed man on the skytrain, ominous rolls of breaking waves, a love poem found on a park bench and a trip to the place where men go to get the taste of pork buns. The future of poetry is in good hands if our open-mic performers are any indication.
Our first feature reader was Toronto’s Maureen Hynes, treating us to her quiet deliberate utterances of Truth from her book Sotto Voce. Maureen introduced us to a form, Sonnenizio, a sonnet which starts with a stolen line, and took us on a trip to Neruda’s house. We also met a serious young seaman, heard about her dead uncle’s parking ticket and a lovely six-petaled blue flower. The reading was equal parts education and delight.
Our second feature reader, Allan Briesmaster, also joined us from Ontario. He read from his book The Long Bond, after a little lesson on light-bending gravity and Deepak Chopra’s theory that everything that exists is just energy and information. Allan praised the oft-ignored goddess of home and hearth, Hestia, and returned us the theme of man’s destruction of nature, as he lamented reign of man’s potential to kill what are left of the dolphins and the eagles.
Fiona Tinwei Lam rounded out the evening by reading from her book Odes and Laments. Fiona expressed her gratitude to Pablo Neruda (it was a very Neruda evening) for introducing her to odes about ordinary things. Neruda’s influence resonated throughout the poems, which began with a full description of a healthy drusen-free human eye, and continued on to a trip from the rice fields to the ancient rice cooker of Fiona’s childhood kitchen counter. Then we were treated to a series of poems based on images, the first a stolen Vermeer painting, “The Concert”, and concrete poetry about the scattered attention our various technological devices have created in us as we torture ourselves wondering who loves/unloves us. We were left satiated from our guilt-free, MSG-free, cage-free and lactose-free evening of poetry.
Thank you to all of our open-mic poets, our feature readers and, most importantly, our audience.